Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits forecast for the Yenisei River Basin

18 July 2019

The 12-month forecast through March 2020 indicates intense water surpluses in southern Turkmenistan, and surpluses of varying intensity in eastern Uzbekistan into western Tajikistan and across the breadth of Kyrgyzstan.

Surpluses are also forecast in Kostanay in northern Kazakhstan, and along the Ishim and Esil Rivers. Pockets of surplus are also expected in the southern provinces and along the Ile River in the southeast. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Aktobe Region in western Kazakhstan northeast of the Caspian Sea and along the central eastern Caspian coast.

In Russia, surpluses are expected in the eastern Northern European Plain and the Western Siberian Plain including the Ob and Vakh River Basins. Deficits are expected around the Gulf of Ob. Surpluses are forecast in the Lower Yenisei River region, but deficits are forecast in the remainder of the river’s wide-reaching basin and will be intense in the region of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and the Upper Reaches of the Podkamennaya Tunguska. In the Volga River Basin, intense surpluses are forecast in the Lower Volga region upstream of Volgograd and farther north along the river surrounding Samara. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod.

The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The forecast through September indicates that surpluses will shrink in the Northern European Plain in Russia. Widespread surpluses will persist in the Ob River Basin and will be intense where the Tobol and Irtysh join the Ob and in the Upper Ob region north of Novosibirsk. Deficits will persist along the central coast of the Gulf of Ob. Deficits are forecast for much of the Yenisei River Basin and will be exceptional in the region of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and between the Podkamennaya Tunguska and the Angara. Surpluses are forecast for the Lower Yenisei region.

In the Volga region, surpluses will persist north of Volgograd and farther north around Samara. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod, and moderate deficits are expected around Moscow.

In southern Turkmenistan conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast (pink/purple) as transitions occur, and some mild deficits will emerge in much of the remainder of the country. Mild deficits will also emerge in Uzbekistan and moderate deficits in the northeast; surpluses will persist in the southeast. Surpluses will shrink and downgrade in Tajikistan, persisting in the center of the country, and intense surpluses will persist in eastern Kyrgyzstan. In Kazakhstan, deficits in Aktobe Region in the northwest will diminish considerably, intense surpluses will persist in Kostanay and pockets of the north, and surpluses in the south will shrink, with some deficits emerging near the border with Uzbekistan.

From October through December, surpluses will persist in the Ob River Basin and in aforementioned regions of the Volga. Deficits will shrink and downgrade in the Yenisei Basin and in the Middle and Upper Volga regions. In Kazakhstan, surpluses will persist in Kostenay and rivers in the north, and will intensify somewhat on the Ile River in the south becoming severe. Deficits in Aktobe will disappear, transitioning to surplus in some areas. Surpluses will re-emerge in southern Turkmenistan, and will persist in eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Deficits in the region will disappear.

The forecast for the final months – January through March 2020 – indicates nearly normal conditions across the Northern European Plain. Surpluses will shrink somewhat but persist in the Ob River Basin, and deficits will persist in much of the Yenisei River Basin. Surpluses are forecast for southern Turkmenistan, eastern Uzbekistan into Tajikistan, and Kyrgyztan.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

A state of emergency was declared in Siberia’s Irkutsk region after heavy rains overflowed several tributaries of the Angara River in Russia, leading to flash flooding in dozens of villages late last month. At least 23 people were killed in the floods and another 33,000 were displaced. The federal government sent 1,300 defense personnel in addition to vehicles and aircraft to aid rescue and recovery efforts in the region. Preliminary damage estimates amount to 29 billion rubles (USD $454 million). 

The European Union agreed to provide 70,000 EUR (USD $78,500) in aid to Tajikistan in response to severe flooding in early June that affected over 6,700 people across a wide swath of the country. The aid directly targets 2,750 people in the hardest-hit provinces of Khatlon and Sughd. 

Recent drought conditions in Russia west of the Ural Mountains cut this year’s projected wheat crop yields by nearly 8 percent from previous forecasts.  

Claiming that two-thirds of Kazakhstan's land area is vulnerable to drought, a recent World Bank study estimates that effects of climate change could reduce grain production in Kazakhstan by 37 percent by 2030. Glaciers, an important resource during times of low precipitation, have shrunk by a third since the start of the 20th century.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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